Narrative and Ethnography as Tools for Vocation Discernment – AAA

link to my slideshare presentation:

Within institutions, sociolinguist Charlotte Linde (2001) has shown that narratives both carry out the daily work of the institution and reproduce it. In this paper, drawing from insights into narrative within ethnographies from two very different types of institution: an improvisational theater company and a religious organization, I discuss the use of virtual ethnography and narrative analysis in a professional development course for M.A. students in sociolinguistics. Students select narratives drawn from a variety of media (websites, blogs, twitter feeds, newsletters) to analyze using tools of discourse analysis and interactional sociolinguistics in helping them find meaningful application of their linguistic training in various professional contexts.

Specifically, I illustrate how linguistic choices (including deixis and referring expressions) made by narrators in constructing their story worlds contribute to positionings that construct and convey institutional values, personal relationships, and individual and group identities. As analysts, being able to illustrate how such processes work, we stand to contribute unique insight into how humans organize and understand the world, and feel connected to one another. This not only adds to continuing work on narratives in institutional contexts, which have been shown to be “an indispensible instrument in the analysis of human identity, facilitating the discovery and rediscovery of individual experiences. and helping individuals appreciate and comprehend these experiences” (Guilherme, Glaser, and del Carmen Méndez-Garcia 154), but in this case, for these students to help them discern a future vocation.

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